John Hadley of Chelsom

Born from retail roots in 1947, Chelsom has earned its esteemed reputation as one of the world’s leading designers, manufacturers, and suppliers of decorative lighting to the international hospitality and marine markets. Chelsom designs have been specified for some of the most prestigious marine projects to date, seeing the lighting specialists collaborate with the world’s leading cruise operators including Royal Caribbean, NCL, Seabourn, P&O and Disney, developing a marine portfolio to envy as they go.

Ahead of the upcoming Cruise Ship Interiors Expo Miami, where Chelsom will be exhibiting, we spoke with Marine Director, John Hadley. Read on to find out what he had to say, from Chelsom’s most challenging projects to the future of the cruise industry!

Hi John! Thanks for sitting down with the #CSIE19 team today. Let’s talk about Chelsom’s origins. Founded in 1947, Chelsom has come quite a way since Reg and Kay Chelsom created the company in a small antique shop in Blackpool. Can you tell us a little bit about Chelsom’s journey since then?

One small shop became 3 shops; antique fittings were supplemented by reproduction antiques and those items were distributed to the UK’s leading retail shop. Better designs meant that the business focus changed to the contract market. Robert Chelsom became MD in the 1970s and Will Chelsom took over that position in 2015.

Design-led, contract-focused, and service-driven.

What was the decision behind branching into the cruise ship and marine sector?

A lot of the interior design practices we worked within the global hotel market also designed for cruise ship interiors and, knowing our quality engineering standards, started to specify Chelsom. We immediately embraced all the challenges of working in such a demanding sector.

Using just three words, how would you describe Chelsom today?

Design-led, contract-focused, and service-driven.

Chelsom offers a wide range of lighting solutions, including satisfying bespoke demands. Of all the products you offer, do you have a favourite?

There really are too many to be able to select one. Apart from the hundreds of standard products we offer in the range, 35% of our turnover comes from custom designs, add to that the fact that we are working in markets ranging from 3-star to 7-star – across designs covering table, floor, wall, and ceiling – it’s an impossible question to answer.  If forced to choose one it would be the Dock, LED bedside reading light because it functions so beautifully in so many different settings and in so many areas of design.

Throughout Chelsom’s many years in business, you’ve provided lighting solutions to some major projects in the marine market, including Queen Mary 2 and Harmony of the Seas. Can you tell us about a project that was particularly challenging or interesting?

Every marine project is challenging; custom designs, marine situations, tight lead times and stringent budgets create different challenges for every ship that we do. Harmony of the Seas, as the world’s biggest ever cruise ship, certainly tested us but since then we have completed work on her even bigger sister ship, Symphony of the Seas. Last year we also delivered public areas to the Celebrity Edge, whose state-of-the-art designs pushed us to new levels of design ingenuity.

The cruise industry is booming and there is no sign that the huge increase in passenger figures over recent years will slow down.

With this ever-evolving industry gaining more and more momentum, where do you see the cruise interiors industry in the next five or 10 years?

The cruise industry is booming and there is no sign that the huge increase in passenger figures over recent years will slow down. More ships mean more competition and so groundbreaking interiors will be even more important in attracting those passengers and ensuring they return for years to come.

What cruise interior trends might we expect to see in the years to come? Additionally, how do you think this will affect Chelsom’s lighting solutions, if at all?

Public spaces are becoming more luxurious and jaw-dropping due to some incredibly creative interior designers. As passenger profiles change to attract a younger generation of cruisers, interiors have to change accordingly so all the family members feel comfortable in those spaces. Because Chelsom has such a wide range of design and manufacturing skills, and because we work with so many different materials, we are confident that we can follow any interior trends over the coming years. For example, light effects have played a much bigger part in recent interiors with sophisticated dimming, colour changing and all lighting aimed at the perfect ambience for the scheme.

Thanks for taking the time to speak with us today. Finally, can you tell us what you’re looking to achieve through attending Cruise Ship Interiors Expo Miami 2019?

Chelsom is looking to cement their relationship with cruise industry leaders from around the world and to share with them a portfolio of some of our recent cruise project successes. We hope the exhibition will further our aim to become the go-to lighting when designing cruise ship interiors!